Apple acknowledges corporate IT workers’ frustration over secretive product roadmap

“Apple yesterday conceded corporate IT workers are ‘always’ complaining about its secretive product roadmap — but warned the only way to get up to speed is to invest thousands of dollars and a full working week attending its annual US-based developer conference,” Renai LeMay reports for ZDNet Australia.

“‘People always complain that Apple doesn’t give systems admins or systems architects enough of a roadmap of where our technologies are going,’ the vendor’s Asia-Pacific head of developer relations, Craig Bradley, told an audience of third-party developers in Sydney yesterday,” LeMay reports. “Bradley was referring to Apple’s notorious culture of corporate secrecy that sees very little information released about the vendor’s products before they actually hit the market.”

There is “one way out of the Apple dilemma: go to Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), held annually and approaching in August,” LeMay reports. “Those attending the conference get a clear roadmap of Apple’s software development plans up to 18 months ahead.”

“Apple’s internal engineers also attend, solving problems and demonstrating technology. And that’s not all — Apple’s Cupertino campus also plays host to what Bradley described as ‘pretty much a beer-bash.’ These privileges don’t come cheap though, with attendees paying up to US$1595 for the five day event and being required to comply with non-disclosure provisions about confidential information available there,” LeMay reports.

LeMay reports, “Bradley said Apple would ‘definitely’ be demonstrating its new Leopard operating system at this year’s conference, although he declined to reveal any details ahead of time.”

Full article with more about the challenges of providing Macintosh-based solutions to businesses here.

MacDailyNews Take: Better to be secretive than stagnant.

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Related article:
Apple confirms ‘sneak peek preview’ of Mac OS X Leopard at WWDC 2006 this August – April 18, 2006

33 Comments

  1. This as opposed to the countless thousands/millions windows people spend on their systems in terms of security software and not upgrading their software since it takes 5 years for anything remotely new to be released and then when it is they have to spend much more on new hardware then even more debugging said new software.

  2. Not every company can afford to send their IT staff to a conference that costs US$1595.

    That said, I think that Apple’s roadmap for the next six months is clear. The pro line will be transitioned to Intel chips, at least some of them should have 64-bit support. And by early 2007 at the latest, OS 10.5 will support Micro$oft Windows in one way or another.

    I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be “left in the dark” on some of the specifics of Apple’s above plans than be lied to by Micro$oft regarding Office, Origami, and Vista. Besides, I think that Apple learned from the Osborne fiasco in the 1980’s not to release too much information prior to a product launch.

  3. Bradley said: People always complain that Apple doesn’t give systems admins or systems architects enough of a roadmap of where our technologies are going …

    It’s true. And Sun and HP don’t give much of a clue about where their Enterprise-level systems are going, either. The PC makers tell you “faster, more, lighter” as it’s all about hardware tweaks for them.

    And then there’s Microsoft. They’ve been telling us where they are going for years … but they haven’t gone anywhere in the meantime.

    So … what is it these people really want? OS X is evolving faster than any other OS out there, is this a problem? It is also stabler than the one evolving slower than nearly any other OS out there. It isn’t hard to join the ranks of Apple Developers, thus keeping yourself well informed as to where Joe Mac will be in a couple of months – nor financially painful. They could likely get by simply investing the time they would otherwise spend clearing the mess from their PCs.

  4. First of all, it’s nice to see that the business IT community is interested enough in Macintoshes to make this problem significant.

    Second of all, M.X.N.T.4.1. above has a very good point. If you want to know what Microsoft will be doing 5 years from now, there is no way to know unless they tell you in advance of product release dates. If you want to know what Apple will be doing 5 years from now, just follow the trend of all the other products they release before then. You can’t do this with Microsoft because there are very very few real changes in their technology over time.

  5. Apple knows that the only way it can stay in business is by being highly innovative and an early adopter of emerging technologies. In order to protect it’s position against companies that spend as much as 10x the money each year on R&D they must keep a lid on things. Without the NDA’s every little detail would be trumpeted on the Mac & Tech web, negating most of the market advantage their work and expense would gain.
    It’s the price of their business model.

  6. Oh please. After years of being an Apple systems administrator, I’ve seldom found direction to be too difficult to anticipate. I didn’t anticipate the Intel thing, but it doesn’t really make any difference.

    Only one thing would derail me, and that’s if Apple dropped OS X (ala John Davorak predictions).

    I anticipate better Macs.
    Faster Macs.
    Relatively expensive Macs.

    I know that Apple will not cause me to have to change my entire network infrastructure.

    Apple will announce any new major projects within a respectable amount of time. It isn’t really necessary to go to the developer’s conference… just fun.

  7. Okay…Apple’s response blows. IT complains that they don’t know enough about Apple’s roadmap to be able to make informed decisions, and Apple’s response is “yeah, sorry about that. The only solution is to spend $1600 + air fare/hotel to come listen to us in a grossly impersonal setting.”

    That’s not going to go over particularly well…

  8. MDN: You’re idiots on this topic.

    As an Apple admin and support person in a very big entertainment company, I can tell you that being secretive is NOT good for people like me and my users.

    Like it or not, corporations – even in the creative industries – want to know what’s going on before they drop $500k on new systems.

    Apple hurts making inroads because if this.

    All other companies do this, and Apple doesn’t need to sell iPod secrets to help the cause.

    Scott

  9. “…Like it or not, corporations – even in the creative industries – want to know what’s going on before they drop $500k on new systems….”

    Only one time in Apple’s history have I felt this way and that’s when the company was borderline about to collapse. We didn’t know if there was going to be a new Mac OS, or if there was going to be a new Apple. The company was loosing 100,000,000 dollars a year and had no clear direction.

    Since then any IT Director with half a clue can surmise what is important as far as the company’s product line futures.

    Other companies are just as secretive, it’s just that no one cares. Do you know what Dell plans for the next 12 months? No. Do you know what HP plans for the next 12 months? No.

    Did you know that IBM was going to dump its PC business on Lenovo.

    No.

    Even the Intel thing didn’t make a difference. If you spent 500K on PowerPC machines, the life of those machines is just as viable as the life of Intel machines.

    On top of all this, it has been my experience that if you’re really going to spend 500K, as you say, Apple will bring you in and answer any directional questions you might have under non-disclosure.

    Hell they do that for me on the prospect of a mere $50K. They’ve been kind enough to tell me to wait on purchases, etc.

    So get real, get over it, the company has the RIGHT to be as secretive as it chooses.

  10. “Apple yesterday conceded corporate IT workers are ‘always’ complaining about its secretive product roadmap…”

    Pardon the sarcasm here, but that implies that corporate IT actually gives a hoot about the Mac! I agree with Davidlow saying, “First of all, it’s nice to see that the business IT community is interested enough in Macintoshes to make this problem significant.”

    I too hope that the corporate IT world is warming up to the Mac. More interest translates into more business-related software. Assuming that additional developers will write GOOD (well thought out) software for the Mac, it will lead to computers that are actually useful and dependable as well as more secure in the corporate and manufacturing environment.

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